New plum trees are usually grown and propagated by means of cuttings and roots from mature plum trees. However, it is possible to use seeds to grow a plum tree.
Although there is evidence of a plum tree being propagated from seeds, it usually requires more time, controlled temperature, and care to grow. When trying to propagate a plum tree from seeds, it’s best to plant a lot of them as some may not sprout.
Propagating a Plum Tree from Seeds
Plum pits are the seeds of a plum fruit enclosed in a hard shell. And if you’ve ever wondered if you could grow a plum tree simply by planting that pit, then yes you can.
However, there is no guarantee that plum seeds will sprout and foster a full-grown and matured plum tree. Cuttings and rootstock still work better when trying to propagate a plum tree.
But that’s not to say that it’s impossible to grow a plum tree by means of planting the seeds. Plum pits may foster the growth of a plum tree, but there are possibilities that it doesn’t bear fruit.
Should it be able to, the fruit may not look like the usual succulent fruits that the original plum tree bears. They can result in producing a different variety, but nevertheless, still has the characteristics of an average plum.
Where do Plum Trees Grow?
In the United States, there are two common plum species that are grown and consumed:
- Japanese Plum (Prunus salicina)
- European Plum (Prunus domestica)
95% of the plum production in the US comes from California because they have the best climate conditions to foster the growth of plum trees. They possess a Mediterranean climate, which is the preference of fruit trees of this variety.
Plum trees can grow in any type of soil, provided that proper watering, sunlight, and humidity are available. But they grow best in loam soil.
In the best climate conditions and soil variety, plum trees can mature and start bearing fruit in a matter of 140 to 170 days. The season when plum fruits are abundant is from the months of May to September.
How to Plant Plum Seeds
It is possible to plant and grow a plum tree using the seeds of plums you have consumed. But again, not all of them can sprout. The chances of growing the same plum variety are also slim, so it’s important to get your expectations straight before beginning.
To plant plum seeds, here’s what you have to do:
Take the pits of recently consumed plums
The chances of plum pits or seeds sprouting are higher when they recently became bear. So if you’ve collected all your plum seeds from several weeks or months ago, those might not be suitable to plant if you’re after bearing fruit.
It’s better to take seeds of recently consumed plums (a few days prior) and work on germinating them immediately to achieve the best results.
It’s also advisable to collect a lot of pits to increase the chances of planting one or two that actually can sprout and grow.
Allow the pits to dry
Take your collected pits and lay them to rest in a sunny area in your home or garden.
Drying the pits will help you easily break the shell and retrieve the seed inside.
Break the shell
When the pits are dry enough and you notice a bit of cracking, you can now use a nutcracker to break the shell.
Be careful not to press too hard as you may damage the seed inside. The seeds need to be in their best state before planting, so you can no longer plant a squished or damaged seed.
Put the seeds in a container with water
Once you have broken all the shells and retrieved seeds, put them inside a container filled with room temperature water.
The density of the seeds will help determine if they will sprout once you plant them. If the seeds sink, then they are good to plant. If they float, they’re no longer viable so take them out and dispose of them.
Leave the sunken seeds in the water container overnight.
Plant the seeds in compost
The next morning, prepare a container or jar and fill it two-thirds full will compost. Then put a little water — just enough to make the soil moist.
Plant the seeds inside the container beneath the compost then seal the container.
Put the container in your refrigerator
To begin the stratification process, put the container in the refrigerator under a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This will help the seeds germinate and sprout. Allow them to complete the stratification process, which could take as long as 6 to 8 weeks.
Prepare to plant your seeds
The seeds should start to sprout after 6 to 8 weeks in the fridge. When they do, they’re ready to be planted in your garden.
Find a nice spot where your seeds can be shaded and protected from frost during the winter. Make sure it’s in an area where it can receive full sunlight.
If you can’t find an area to plant them, you can opt to put them in a pot in the meantime and transplant the tree later. Should you decide to do this, choose a pot that is deep and has drainage holes.
Plant your seeds
Dig a small hole that’s only a few inches deeper than the roots that have sprouted from the seed. Then take your seed and place it gently in the center while spreading the roots. Cover the seed with soil.
If you have multiple seeds that have sprouted, plant them separately, at least 20-25 feet apart.
Water the areas where you planted your seeds just enough to keep the soil moist. Avoid overwatering as this can cause the seeds to rot and die.
Maintain proper care
Make sure that your seeds get adequate water and sunlight. Conduct maintenance efforts like cleaning the area and getting rid of pests and weeds.
When properly cared for, your seed can flourish into a plum tree and bear fruit in three to five years.
With the right determination and care, plum seeds can grow into a mature tree and bear fruit. But you have to put in the work.
It may take a long time, but it is possible. Just think of it as an investment that you make to help you yield an abundance of plums a few years from now.